Once upon a time we were all small and a lot less jaded — and that’s when the holidays were the most fun. We’ve been getting into the spirit of the season by examining holiday traditions and curating some fun gift guides, but today we’re taking it back to the golden age of cartoons. These vintage animated shorts are probably before your time, but they should help inspire memories of old-school holiday celebrations and make you feel like a kid again.
A group of South Pole creatures build a snowman and pelt it with snowballs. The pummeling brings the snowman to life, and the animals soon feel his monstrous wrath. The 1940 film is a great early horror-themed holiday short.
Oswald the Rabbit, a close cousin of Disney’s Mickey Mouse (the company helped create the anthropomorphic bunny), hosts Santa during the Toyland Parade, but things don’t go exactly as planned. Watch the 1934 cartoon for charming, old-timey cartoons (not counting a horrible blackface character, played by an animated Eddie Cantor), creepy balloons, a Santa who isn’t afraid to cry, and celebrity caricatures — including Frankenstein, Shirley Temple, Bing Crosby, and a villainous Laurel and Hardy.
Vintage cartoon enthusiasts will recognize Professor Grampy in this 1936 short from the Betty Boop series. Christmas Comes But Once a Year is also a Max Fleischer production (famous for Popeye the Sailor Man, Betty Boop, and Koko the Clown), featuring the cheerful senior at an orphanage. The abandoned children receive a heartwarming holiday celebration from the kindly character.
Pluto wants to murder Chip ‘n’ Dale. We can’t blame him. Go here to watch the full film.
This was the last cartoon that famed producer Max Fleischer created. The 1948 short opens with Johnny Marks’ classic song about the outcast reindeer, who winds up saving Christmas thanks to his glowing, red nose.
Olive Oyl acts awkward — this time on ice skates. Popeye battles Bluto for her affection. It’s another old-fashioned fight to the finish.
We would gladly adopt every single one of these adorable cartoon kitty orphans, even though they tear apart Mickey Minnie, and Pluto’s house.
Also known as Christmas Night, Pals stars Otto Soglow’s comic character, The Little King. He’s a man of few words, as you’ll see in this 1933 story in which the regal figure befriends two tramps for a Christmas party at his castle.
A surprisingly dark Christmas tale related by Mel Blanc’s (the voice of Barney Rubble and Mr. Spacely) squirrel grandpa. He tells his grandchildren a post-apocalyptic story about humans waging war against each other until everyone is dead. The animals that survive rebuild a peaceful society amongst themselves. The short was nominated for the 1939 Academy Award.
Proof that everyone melts when it comes to baby animals.
This short, which is basically Candy Land at war, was featured in the Jimmy Durante film Hollywood Party. Walt Disney provided the voice of Mickey.
This singalong cartoon from 1949 features cameos from Popeye, a comical caricature of Bob Hope (his head, anyway), and a smitten soldier.
Why hasn’t anyone invented an ice-skating turtle coffee delivery service yet?
Featuring the very first voice of Donald Duck (probably the funniest version), performed by Clarence Nash.
A lively version of the classic poem “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas,” except this one features a mustache-twirling, villainous toy.